When the Dominican Sisters of Houston gather annually for our Advent Prayer and Brunch, it has been our custom to give the Pauline Gannon Service Recognition Award to either, an employee, volunteer or benefactor. This award is the sisters’ way of recognizing friends and partners whose companionship and service deserve special honor. When we gathered on Saturday, December 17, we broke with that tradition. In her opening remarks, Sr. Donna Pollard announced that in this 800 anniversary year of the Order of Preachers, we were gathering to honor every member of the Dominican Family around the globe. We were joined by many of the Dominican Vietamese sisters as well as other members of the Dominican Family in Houston.
The Gospel reading for that Saturday was Matthew’s genealogy. In her homily, Sr. Jane Meyer asked us “to remember and celebrate the genealogy and our heritage of the 800 year anniversary of St. Dominic. We are proud to be Dominicans with our rich history.” Excerpts from her homily follow.
“And what do we really know about our Dominican Heritage? Actually, we know very little about Dominic compared to the rest of the order. But that’s because of who Dominic was… a simple and humble man of God. What was important to him was preaching and teaching the Gospel in the same simple and loving way as did Jesus and his disciples. He wanted a simpler, less secure life, a life of poverty and dependence on God’s providence, a life of devotion to active service of others…”
“Throughout these past 800 years the Dominican Order has been deeply blessed with men and women passionately committed to preaching, teaching and living gospel values. Some we know well and others somehow delightfully surprise us when we discover them.”
“St. Catherine of Siena (was) named the first woman doctor of the Church. Pope Innocent V(was) the first Dominican pope; St. Martin de Porres, who because of his mixed race suffered ridicule, yet persevered and was known for his unconditional care of all people, regardless of race or wealth and (who could forget) St. Thomas Aquinas, the great moral theologian of his day. But then there was also Yves Congar, one of the foremost theologians of Vatican II and in our own century Vincent McNabb and Bede Jarrett, Mother Pauline, Mother Mary Agnes, Annie Willits and Timothy Ratcliff…”
“My friends, this is not where the Dominican lineage ends. As Paul Harvey would say… ‘and now the rest of the story.’ The rest of the story embraces all of us – you and me. Just as it was for the saints throughout the centuries before us, we too are called to passionately embrace and make relevant with our lives – Gospel values and truth. The impressive lineage that we have inherited comes with a great responsibility.
She ended reminding us that just as “Today’s Gospel is meant to remind us of the names and faces that make up the bulk of Jesus’ genealogy and to remember their stories of triumphs and failures. We also remember the genealogy of St. Dominic and their triumphs and failures. We are reminded during Advent that mercy and salvation has come for us all – it is part of our heritage. My friends, we are all connected to a living story and none of us are living our story alone or perfectly. All of us can improve our commitment to do what is right. Advent gives us the time to slow down, to reflect, to regroup . . . and to continue Matthew’s genealogy – the story of the sequence of Jesus Christ in this way: Jesus called Peter and Paul . . . Paul called Timothy . . . someone called you and you must call someone else. My friends, there is still time to write…The rest of the story.”
Brunch followed the prayer and gave us the opportunity to visit and reflect with one another on our Dominican heritage.